szólj hozzá: Arsenal vs Newcastle 7:3 GOALS HIGHLIGHTS
We have seen Theo Walcott’s brilliant flourishes before at Arsenal and playing for the Three Lions. But never like this. That seventh goal was a striker smelling a hat trick and finishing with aplomb. It did not matter that Walcott was shunted to a more familiar role on the right channel when Olivier Giroud came on as he provided the Frenchman with two delectable assists. Giroud celebrated his return in style as he flung himself at a Walcott cross that zipped in with pace and placement and minutes later the Walcott -Van Persie connection worked again. Van Persie? I meant, Giroud. No hard feelings, Robin. You did good today too.
The first half was more about Wenger’s comical attempts at trying to keep the London cold out with his flailing attempts at zippering his anorak. For the more literal minded, this was not a wardrobe malfunction but a direct portal into Arsenal’s recent struggles. Every time he thought he had both edges aligned and pulled up, it would fall apart. Arsenal made a beautiful start as Lukas Podolski sent Walcott racing down the left and the striker (yes, he is now) turned Newcastle inside out and then finished superbly by rolling the ball past Tim Krul at the far post. Thierry Henry was at hand to enjoy that one. Wenger celebrated that one by pretending he had outfoxed his zipper.
Arsenal then went into an inexplicable shell conceding miles of space and time to Newcastle which as a long suffering Arsenal fan came back to bite them as Demba Ba (who did not hurt his transfer rumours at all with his performance) found Jack Wilshere twisting his head to avoid his free kick and with one fortuitous deflection it was one all. Wenger by now having found his midriff and chest exposed to the elements despite all his ministrations. The Gunners seem to abandon their passing game for launching ill advised long distance bombs to Walcott. Memo to Wenger. His pace is finite.
The second half found Wenger on the sideline seemingly less distracted with his previous preoccupations. Arsenal responded in kind finding energy and intent which paid off as Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain who in the first half showed a frustrating propensity for lashing crosses to nowhere latching onto Santi Cazorla’s service, eluding a defender or two and then lashing the ball past Krul at a perfect angle for his first Premiership strike of the season. Arsenal in the driving seat and a relieved Wenger managing a wan smile. Very nice. But would it hold as his zipper? Nah. Never read too much into symbolism, this after all is Arsenal, not a Peter Brooks master theatre production. As Sagna and the rest of the defense drew themselves like moths to a flame at Gabriel Obertan’s slaloming around, no one checked on Sylvain Marveaux’s slipping to the far post undetected. As Obertan skipped past the cordon he found the midfielder left unmolested with acres of space and a simple tap in. Clownish defending.
Arsenal went one up again as Wilshere and Podolski zipped around their passes as the former ran down the left aligning square with the goal before launching a zero angle cross. As the ball hung in the air, Colocinni snapped at it but was only able to provide Podolksi a clean look at goal with his header. By now you knew what was coming. Sure enough it was Demba Ba left untouched by Kieran Gibbs who scored at the far post as Arsenal fans including yours truly screamed their warnings to no avail. One marvels at the clarity provided by drinking a few and the disconnect seen on the pitch.
Mercifully, in scoring terms that was all that Newcastle had to offer. It was all Arsenal after that in the statistics that rally matter. Especially Walcott and Giroud as the former scored to lift the Gunners to their fourth and then reverted back to wing man for the centreforward’s brace. As if a dozen goals were not enough to sate the Emirates of holiday cheer, Walcott provided an exclamation point with a masterful solo display including getting back to his feet as he dribbled his way goal bound to scoop the ball past Krul to get his most deserved hat trick.
With this win, Arsenal are placed fifth with one match in hand over third placed Spurs and a superior goal differential, one spot removed from the all important fourth placed finish which guarantees a CL spot. Piling on the goals might prove crucial with little to separate a tightly clustered group of clubs. More importantly, this win clarifies what the club may need in terms of the transfer window. A proven holding midfielder who can organize the defense in the vulnerable minutes following a goal scored and closing out matches with less stress.
What about Walcott’s future as his contract runs out? Wenger might be on the right track transforming him into a front line striker which could be accomplished at Arsenal under his tutelage but it also means other clubs have taken note of this performance. Walcott might feel short changed and rightly so, if he does not feel well compensated by what Arsenal have to offer given Aaron Ramsey’s recent extension paying him an astounding £ 60,000 per week (a prime example of how Arsenal’s wage structure is so counterproductive) for less than noteworthy contributions from the bench. There is no foreseeable fiscal cliff that Arsenal needs to fear. Be bold. A deal that keeps him at the Emirates.